There has been a bit written at this site about the importance of burning landscapes including comment from David Ward in WA that:
“I have recently developed geometric evidence that frequent burning is the only (repeat only), way to maintain a reasonably fine grained fire mosaic, with small, mild, and controllable fires; a rich diversity of habitat for plants and animals; and protection of small fire refuges for that minority of plants and animals which are not adapted to frequent fire. Aborigines clearly knew, and still, in some parts, know this. Anyone who does not understand should go and talk to an Aboriginal Elder.
“It can be demonstrated, with geometric certainty, that any deliberate long fire exclusion over large areas, such as a National Park, will lead inevitably (repeat inevitably) to large fierce fires, and a coarser mosaic, with little diversity of food and shelter for animals. Small refuges, important for some rare plants and animals, will be destroyed by the ferocity of the fires.”
I have just discovered Christine Jones’ website at http://www.amazingcarbon.com/ courtesy of Graham Finlayson.
Jones suggests that regular burning is extremely detrimental to soft forms of native ground cover and encourages a dominance of relatively unpalatable grasses, removes surface litter leaving the soil unprotected, reduces potential for nutrient cycling, reduce water-holding capacity and degrade soil structure. … concluding that “fire is a tool which should be used cautiously and infrequently”.
Jones suggests that the recruitment of productive native legumes and grasses is favoured by mulching which is destroyed by regular burning.
Jones promotes grazing on the basis that “The open, park-like appearance of many areas at the time of European settlement has often been attributed to indigenous burning regimes. More recent evidence suggests that the healthy grasslands and friable soils described by the first settlers were more likely to have reflected the high abundance of small native mammals, such as bettongs and potoroos most of which are now locally extinct … with the loss of the regenerative effects of small native mammals in Australia since European settlement, managed grazing is now arguably the only natural means by which grasslands can be ‘improved’ in a holitistic way.”
The above is my summary of page 7 and 8 of http://www.lwa.gov.au/downloads/general_doc/46_sti1%20final%20report.pdf, titled ‘Recognise, Relate, Innovate’ by Jones – at the same website.
Are Jones and Ward talking about different landscapes?